Thursday, 02 May 2019 15:20

Case Study: 2007 Ford Explorer 2WD 137,374 Miles

  Case Study: 2007 Ford Explorer 2WD 5R55S 5R55W 5R55N Transmission
  Dave Riccio, Owner/Technician

By Dave Riccio, ASE Certified Technician, Owner of Tri-City Transmission & Auto Repair, Co-host of Bumper to Bumper Radio

CASE STUDY: Customer Saves $2,300 over independent repair facility quote

5R55S, 5R55W, 5R55N - These are the slight variations of the same transmission - These vehicle specifically had the (S) denotation.

This was a clean, one owner, Ford Explorer that would not move either forward or backwards. Our customer had it towed to their normal trusted mechanic. Their trusted mechanic quickly diagnosed the problem and said the transmission had failed and would need to be replaced. The cost, $4,200. This customer was already growing tired of the vehicle and certainly did not want to invest that kind of money in a vehicle that they were no longer fond of.

With a little bit of internet research, this couple found us at Tri-City Transmission Service. They were looking to minimize the money they had to spend on a vehicle that was at the end of the life cycle for them. The customer contacted us asking the question that we get day in and day out, all day long. "How much for a transmission for my vehicle"? Our standard response, “we would be happy to give you a price as soon as we have diagnosed the issue.” They said, "Their mechanic already had diagnosed the problem, the vehicle wouldn't move and obviously needed a transmission". To this, we indicated, it would only be obvious if you weren't sure what you were looking at. Sometimes it seems logical that you might need a new transmission. Transmission repair often times can seem counter intuitive as so many assumptions are made by the novice that is absolutely not correct about how transmissions function. Good logic built on poor assumptions is not good logic at all. Seasoned general repair technicians make those bad assumptions. To put it in perspective, our transmission shop will diagnose, service and repair a couple hundred transmissions in one month. An automotive generalist may diagnose and replace less than two transmissions in a single month. These are completely different paradigms. With explanation, this customer agreed with our philosophy and had the vehicle towed in for our thorough diagnostic process.

Case Study: 2007 Ford Explorer 2WD 5R55S 5R55W 5R55N Transmission

The results of our preliminary transmission diagnostic was a stuck pump flow control valve located in the transmission pump. In order to access this valve, the transmission would need to be removed from the vehicle for a minor transmission bench repair at the front of the transmission. The customer agreed to perform this repair. Upon transmission removal and autopsy of the transmission, we confirmed what we diagnosed. A sticking pump flow control valve. Inspection of the rest of the transmission showed the transmission was in great shape with the exception of worn intermediate and overdrive servo bores. With this information, we had a conversation with the customer about how long they actually wanted to keep the vehicle. They said, realistically, they were not prepared to buy a car within the next 12 months, but would be shortly buying one after that. Between the customer and our team we decided to correct the servo bore issues, the pump flow control valve, reseal the transmission with new fluid and filter, and provide an 18 month, 18,000 mile warranty. This all took place for a touch less than $1,900 including the tow bill. They knew that 12 months later they could sell the vehicle with a clean conscience knowing the transmission was in good shape. This type of repair fit their needs, way better than the overkill of a replacement transmission that came from who knows where for $4,200.00.

Unfortunately, when simply replacing transmissions, as a lot of dealerships and automotive generalist do, they often times don't know a cheaper repair is almost always possible. We would equivalate this repair to replacing an engine when all you needed was a timing chain at the front of the engine. In a lot of cases it is way overkill, especially toward the end of the life cycle for the customer in relation to their ownership of the vehicle.

One thing that could confuse consumers about this type of repair that we performed, in this instance listed above, transmission shops often will call it an overhaul or rebuild. It was definitely not an overhaul, remanufacture, or rebuild of the transmission, it was simply a major repair. Unfortunately, those terms listed above are not governed terms by any government agency or entity. Overhaul, remanufacture, rebuild, recondition, etc, are terms set up by the party performing the transmission work. We believe, to call it any term other than a major repair would be misleading. Unfortunately in the instance of transmission repair, there is nothing stopping people from misleading definitions. Again, hard for the consumer to know what to do.

Our advice when it comes to qualifying the repair shop for the transmission work, is to ask, “are you a qualified transmission technician?” In other words, can you diagnose, fully disassemble, correct a mechanical internal transmission fault and reassemble a properly working transmission? Or is there someone in your shop who can? How long have your been in business? Are you a member of the BBB in good standing and for how long? What is the warranty provided? We at Tri-City Transmission have found in over 4 decades of doing transmission repair, hundreds of transmission shops have come and gone. This is really a concern when you consider the expense to repair a transmission. Transmission repair can be expensive, so you won't want to spend the money the first time, and you certainly won't want to spend it a second time should the shop not be in business if a warranty concern arises. This not only includes transmission shops, but transmission remanufacturing companies online that are a revolving door. Transmission work is difficult, so the failure rate of transmission businesses is significant.

Transmission Background Information:

This transmission gets replaced in error way too often. They are notorious for pump flow control valve issue, servo bore issues, solenoid pack issues, torque converter clutch noise and on occasion, they lose the overdrive planetary washers. As in this case and often times in transmission diagnostic, there are no diagnostic trouble codes. There are no diagnostic trouble codes for a bad transmission as many consumers suspect. We diagnose these with seat of the pants feel (only found with experience), transmission pressure gauges (not found in general repair shops), bi-directional scanner controls (not found at the auto parts store), and the experience of fixing thousands of transmissions over the last 4+ decades.

It has been an unfortunate industry trend, most automotive technicians and transmission technicians won't take the necessary steps to truly diagnose and repair a simple problem. We don't necessarily think it's because they are dishonest, they just don't know how. As the old saying goes, they simply don't know what they don't know. On occasion, we think its just laziness as some people like to take the low lying fruit. It is quicker, easier and requires less knowledge to simply recommend a transmission replacement.

On the flip side of the coin, consumers can be their own worst enemy when it comes to accurate transmission repair, often wanting a quick easy answer. They don't realize, a quick easy answer can cost them additional thousands of dollars as well as additional headache in the end. It seems they don't like the discomfort of a thorough diagnostic process where they might need to wait 24 hours. Especially if they are assuming they will only get bad news and they want that Band-Aid torn off. They always say to us when looking for a price, "just give me the worst case". Our response to this question is that you buy a transmission for thousands of dollars that you never needed that was rebuilt by who knows who. In our mind, that's the worst case scenario.

The Advantage of our Custom Transmission Repair Process.

At Tri-City Transmission and Auto Repair, we have been providing custom rebuilt, custom repaired and custom remanufactured transmission services for over 45 years. With that experience, we know how, why and what the pattern failures are of each transmission. This comes from the experience of diagnosing and repairing thousands of transmissions over that time. We are regularly able to save customers thousands of dollars on unnecessary replacement of transmissions. In general repair terms, we equivalate many of these misdiagnosed and replaced transmissions to replacing an engine when all you needed was a spark plug. Unfortunately, because transmissions are such a black box to most of the industry and the fact that people don't know what they don't know, thousands of dollars and natural resources are wasted unnecessarily replacing transmissions.

This transmission denoted as the 5R55W, 5R55S, 5R55N fits in Ford Mustang, Lincoln Aviator, Lincoln LS, Ford Explorer, and Mercury Mountaineer.

Case Study: 2007 Ford Explorer 2WD 5R55S 5R55W 5R55N Transmission


Bumper Audio Clip of the Week

Steven Bunker joins live from the Goodguys Car Show!